VA Is Working to End Homelessness Among Veterans
In late 2009, the White House and VA announced an ambitious goal to end Veteran homelessness. The plan to address this urgent national priority was outlined in 2010’s Opening Doors, the first-ever federal strategic plan to end Veteran homelessness. These moves galvanized federal, state and local actions to prevent Veterans from becoming homeless and help those who are homeless become stably housed as quickly as possible.
Since then, as a result of VA’s close collaboration with local and national stakeholder organizations, success in ending homelessness among Veterans is happening community by community. State and local governments across the nation—Virginia, Houston, New Orleans and many others—have recently announced that they have ended Veteran homelessness. Many more communities are poised make similar announcements in the near future.
The national picture is also improving. The 2016 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count—a “snapshot” of homelessness on a given night in America—shows that homelessness among Veterans is down by nearly 50 percent since 2010 (learn more about the PIT Count here). The data also revealed a 17 percent decrease in Veteran homelessness since 2015—quadruple the previous year’s rate of decline.
These gains aside, there is more work to do to address the many causes of homelessness among Veterans. These include poverty, lack of access to reasonably priced housing, isolation from family or friends and substance use or mental health challenges that may develop or worsen as a result of service-related trauma or housing instability.
Both independently and in tandem with other federal agencies, VA strives to meet the needs of Veterans by providing various services that help Veterans secure permanent housing and achieve their full potential. These include:
VA also partners with many other public and private entities to expand access to meaningful employment, affordable housing and move-in essentials. Our work is guided by the Housing First approach, which is based on the premise that when Veterans have a place to call home, they’re best able to benefit from the supportive services they need.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald recently announced a concentrated 30-day effort by VA staff and partners to house as many homeless Veterans as possible. Thanks to our collective efforts, there has been a 47 percent reduction in Veteran homelessness across the United States since 2010. We're not yet in every community, though, so our job is not done. Whether you are a VA employee, local homeless service provider, VA grantee or public housing authority, we are calling on you to be a part of the solution. See how you can get involved.
Learn more about VA’s homeless programs and upcoming Stand Downs and get involved. If you know a Veteran who is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, refer him or her to a local VA Medical Center, where VA staff are ready to help. Veterans and their families can also call 1-877-4AID-VET to be connected to VA services.
Ending Veteran Homelessness, Community By Community
Thanks in part to key strategic partnerships, critical investments and adoption of best practices like Housing First, an end to Veteran homelessness is within reach—and is already happening in major cities and states throughout the nation.
Communities nearing an end to Veteran homelessness are using new tools to collect local and state data. The information is compared to the criteria that United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, HUD and VA agree lead to an end to Veteran homelessness.
The resulting information paints a unique, locally based picture of progress made in housing Veterans. The data illuminates accomplishments and pinpoints areas where communities must do more to end homelessness among Veterans.
The growing list of localities that have ended Veteran homelessness are proof that, community by community, it’s possible to ensure every Veteran has a place to call home.
Despite these developments, VA remains committed to ending homelessness among Veterans in every community. That means continuing to invest in effective interventions to prevent homelessness among Veterans and rapidly re-house those who become homeless. It means keeping up our relentless outreach to Veterans in need. And it means enlisting collaborators among government, employers and community-based entities to make sure every Veteran has a place to call home.